Archive | Hyattsville RSS feed for this section

Taqueria La Placita

15 Nov

If you’re looking for one of the most authentic taquerias in the Washington metropolitan area, look no further than Taqueria La Placita. This small restaurant, nested in an area of Hyattsville aptly dubbed “Little Mexico”, is as genuine as it gets.

Just minutes away from the DC border, Taqueria La Placita has been recognized by the Washingtonian in their Cheap Eats column two years in a row (their tacos graced this year’s Cheap Eats cover). Given that my friend Betsy and I have been working in Prince George’s County for well, awhile, a visit was long overdue.

The location is a little peculiar as it is situated on more of a residential road as opposed to the major thoroughfare of Kenilworth Avenue, but that helps give it its charm. The setup is rather simple: you order your tacos from the counter, pay for your meal, then take a seat as you wait for the kitchen to prepare them.

Taqueria La Placita

There are 20 tacos to choose from, and while some of the ingredients might intimidate some newcomers, bear in mind that you’re not stepping inside Taco Bell. This is the real deal, folks.

A menu of tacos, each with its own picture, hangs above the fridge that houses juices and sodas, including glass bottles of Mexican Coca-Cola. Selections range from traditional meats, such as chicken and pork, to the more adventurous – from tripe to pork ear to even cabeza (we’ll let you figure that one out).

I went with the pastor (spiced pork), carne asada (grilled steak), and barbacoa (lamb BBQ). The meats were stuffed inside piping hot two-ply corn tortillas right from the griddle and accompanied with onion, cilantro, lime, radishes, and cucumbers.

The pastor, which features marinated pork shaved off a spit with strips of pineapple and some onion, was my favorite of the three. That’s not to say the other two weren’t good, because I certainly cleaned my plate by the time we were finished. Each table also has three jars of condiments: red and green salsas, and chiles and onions. If you’re a fan of spice, the latter is your friend.

Between six tacos and two sodas, our lunch came out to less than $20. You can’t do much better than that, especially in this area. I can’t wait to go back and try the cecina (salted beef) and lengua (beef tongue). And to think, I couldn’t even eat a hot dog with mustard on it back when I was a kid. Look at me now, Mom!

Taqueria la Placita on Urbanspoon

Shagga Coffee and Restaurant - Ethopian Excellence

20 Oct

While DC has a plethora of Ethiopian restaurants to choose from, perhaps one of the best lies outside the District’s borders. Situated in Hyattsville in what used to house a former donut shop, Shagga Coffee and Restaurant is as unassuming as they come.

Written up in Washingtonian’s Cheap Eats column for the third consecutive year, I have driven by this establishment many times while traveling to and from DC. Little did I know that they were cooking up some phenomenal Ethiopian cuisine inside.

Beef Tibbs

Considering that my friend Betsy and I work near each other in Prince George’s County, we decided to make a lunch date at Shagga and see if the acclaim was justified. Located off a major thoroughfare in Baltimore Avenue and a stone’s throw from the University of Maryland, the dining room was barely occupied save one or two tables.

Nonetheless, we glanced over the menu which had a vast variety of options to choose from. From chicken to lamb to beef to vegetarian, selecting what to order could be a daunting task if you’re unfamiliar with Ethiopian fare. Fortunately, Shagga offers several meat and veggie combinations that allow diners a chance to explore multiple dishes.


We started the meal with a couple of sambusas. Similar to empanadas, they are pastry shells stuffed with vegetables as well as lentils, beef, or chicken. We opted for an order of the lentil as well as the beef. Freshly prepared, the sambusas were hot, crispy, and downright tasty.

While Shagga offers discounted lunch specials during midday, the full menu is also available which features combinations for two. Betsy and I felt that this was the best approach for our meal since we wanted to try a little bit of everything and not limit ourselves to one item.

Combination Platter

We decided to order “Combination #3”, which included Yebeg (lamb) Wot, Doro (chicken) Alicha, and Yesega (beef) Tibbs. It was also accompanied with four vegetable sides (lentils, cabbage, potatoes, and lettuce) as well as a basket of warm injera (Ethiopian bread).

When our combo arrived, we couldn’t believe the size of the portions. There were three huge serving bowls for each of the meats, not to mention the platter placed in the center of the table that included the four veggies. This was a combination for two, yet could have fed four easily.

Chicken Alicha

The Alicha was comprised of chicken simmered in onion, garlic, ginger and herbed butter with a hard-boiled egg. It was the mildest dish in terms of spice while the chicken was very tender.

Meanwhile, the lamb wot was the spiciest of the three plates but its sauce proved to be my favorite of the meal. The stew featured massive chunks of lamb (including shank) as well as a delicious red pepper sauce, onions, spices and butter. If you can tolerate the heat, then this one dish you have to try.

Lamb Wot

Saving the very best for last were the tibbs – tender pieces of beef sautéed in onions, green peppers, and herbs. Perhaps the most flavorful of the three meats, I could have eaten the pieces of beef by themselves let alone wrap them up in the fantastic injera.

If you’re ever in Hyattsville and/or looking for excellent Ethiopian cooking, then I cannot recommend Shagga enough. Even if you’re in DC, it’s a short drive up Rhode Island Avenue. It really is some of the best Ethiopian I have ever come across in this area, and considering that Little Ethiopia is just a few miles away, that’s saying something.

Shagga Coffee & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Hank's Tavern and Eats: Conquering the Hank Burger

4 Feb

While there are a plethora of burger options in the District (perhaps too many), one restaurant that is overlooked and, in our opinion, has one of the better patties in the DMV is Hank’s Tavern & Eats, located in nearby Hyattsville.

Rachel and I were looking for a place to grab dinner before the Maryland/Duke game in College Park on Wednesday evening, but knowing that most of the eateries situated along Route 1 would be jam-packed with Terps fans, we felt Hank’s would be an optimal venue given its proximity to the Comcast Center.

You might not know it, but Hank’s is actually under the umbrella of Chef Geoff’s restaurants. Located in the University Town Center next to the Regal movie theater, Hank’s Tavern & Eats features American comfort food in a laid-back atmosphere.

Hank Burger

Photo courtesy of Stacy Zarin-Goldberg

They also have a great happy hour available in their spacious bar area. Running daily from 3pm to 7pm (and all night on Mondays and Tuesdays), customers can enjoy specials such as $3 drafts and $5 house wines.

Their best deal, however, is the $7 Hank Burger. Normally priced at $11, the Hank Burger is, at the very least, a half pounder stacked with lettuce, tomato, two thick strips of bacon, cheddar, and of course, a gigantic onion ring.

You’ll most likely be astonished at its towering size when it arrives, but for the price, you cannot beat it.

Oh, and it was pretty delicious, too. The Angus beef was juicy and flavorful, and while the bacon could have been a little crispier, Rachel and I had no problems finishing this behemoth of a burger.

We also decided to split a basil chicken salad since half a burger wasn’t going to cut it, at least for me. Just like the Hank Burger, the salad was a very generous portion, and given the reasonable price of $11.99, you’re definitely getting your money’s worth.

Served with greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, croutons, and large pieces of grilled chicken, this was definitely an entrée in its own right.

While the beer list isn’t too extensive, they do have Dale’s Pale Ale on tap and also featured Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA bottles for $3.95

All and all, it was satisfying meal before gametime. It certainly beets a dry, overcooked chicken sandwich at Comcast Center.

Hank's Tavern & Eats on Urbanspoon

Hank’s Tavern & Eats is located at 6507 America Blvd in Hyattsville, MD.